An alternative way of commissioning an evaluation is to begin with an Expression of Interest (EoI). An EoI is a way for an organisation to publish its intention to appoint an evaluation team to conduct an evaluation of a specific project or program. However, there are a number of different ways that EoI’s are constructed or used in development evaluation.
Types of EoI
The first of these is where the EoI is the first phase of a short listing process to find an evaluation team. Generally, short listed candidates will then be provided with the Terms of Reference (ToR) and asked to participate in the Request for Proposal (RFP) process. This is clearly outlined by Sonko, Berhanu and Shamu (2011, p. 10) who describe how ‘[t]he initial call usually only includes requests to submit a letter of intent and CVs, which are assessed to identify the best 8-10 applicants based on their qualifications and experience.’
The second type of EoI is focused on the applicant’s experience and skills in undertaking evaluations. The OCHA Call for Expression of Interest: Global Evaluation of the Emergency Response Funds (ERFs)(2011) outlines key selection criteria that must be responded to in the EoI submission. In this way the EoI is much more like a standard job application process where criteria and key competencies must be addressed and assessed before the short listing of likely candidates takes place. However, UNICEF’s Call for Institutional Expressions of Interest (EOIs): Evaluation of UNICEF’s Cluster Lead Agency Role in Humanitarian Action (CLARE)(2012) focuses on institutional applications where the experience of an institution in delivering evaluations is outlined along with the make-up and experience of the evaluation team that institutional vendors will provide if they are successful. This is a much more prescriptive EoI which explicitly targets specific competencies and capabilities in an overall team. The specific questions that must be responded to in this EoI are:
“Organisational and Financial Profile
- Organisational Structure including any associates, partner firms, etc
- Number of years in consultancy business
Dedicated practice area and core competency: Evaluative work related to organisational development, cluster coordination and emergency response in humanitarian action.
State technical capabilities and number of personnel in evaluation and also highlight topic specific staff capabilities.
What Quality Assurance Certifications are in place?
State proven experience in provision of personnel, where your company has carried out similar projects in the past and briefly describe nature and task (this description must not exceed 200 words).
Confirmation that your company
- Has no on-going litigation with the UN;
- Is not currently removed/invalidated or suspended by the United Nations or UN system organisations;
- Shall declare if it currently employs or anticipates employing any person(s) who was employed by the UN.” (UNICEF 2012)
Alternatively, in her blog, Extreme Genuine Evaluation Makeovers (XGEMs) for Commissioning(2010) Jane Davidson describes the EoI process as “brief, simple, and to the point”. Her advice includes a range of questions that can be asked as part of an EoI which are much more open ended in exploring the fit between the evaluation organisation and the needs of the commissioning agency than the specific criteria based questions of UNICEF and OHCA.
- “What or who is the entity/person/team planning to bid on the evaluation? (max 1 page)
- Why are you interested in this evaluation? (max half a page)
- What makes you think you can do it? What expertise, experience, and capacity do you have to pull it off? (max 1 page)
- Who are you as an evaluation firm, an evaluator, or an evaluation team? What values, practices, and areas of expertise and specialization distinguish you from your competitors/colleagues? (max half a page)
- What are the daily rates of the proposed team members, and what other overheads or incidentals would apply?
- Please provide 2-3 executive summaries from recent evaluation reports the lead evaluator(s) have conducted/led.” (Davidson 2010)
The last version of an EoI is basically a synonym for the Request for Proposal (RFP) process in which organisations or evaluators are asked to provide details of their evaluation plan and budget. In this case it is generally the only stage in the selection process. Actionaid’s Request for Expression of Interest for Consultancy Services to Conduct Mid-Term Review of Actionaid Nigeria’s Country Strategy Paper(2011) asks applicants to submit a “detailed proposal (no more than 8 pages A4 paper size) outlining the proposed methodology for the evaluation, including sampling and data collection methods, survey instruments, data analysis techniques, reporting format and time frame.” However, Davidson (2010) argues that this kind of application is not an EoI when she clearly states that organisations should “NOT under any circumstances slip in a question that asks “and tell us how you would do the evaluation” – [as this] instantly turns it from an EOI into an RFP!”
EoI’s are generally published in newspapers, newsletters or online in order to satisfy donor accountability requirements. To ensure a quality evaluation team it is important that EoI’s are advertised in places where they will have exposure to the greatest audience possible and in a timeframe that allows a quality review and assessment of applications to take place. Advertising an EoI two weeks before an evaluation takes place will surely lead to a rushed process in which only a handful of applications may be received. While the above may lead to competitive bidding it will, however, ensure greater transparency in the selection process and allow the agency/organisation to choose the best evaluator(s) available.
Structure of EoIs
EoIs should always be written in clear and unambiguous language and prepared by persons with sufficient expertise in this area. EoI’s should also outline the key evaluation criteria that will be used when the RFP phase takes place.
Generally EoI’s will have the following information:
- Guiding Principles of the evaluation
- Objectives of the evaluation
- Scope and Scale of the Evaluation
- Selection Criteria
- Time Frame for the Evaluation
- Application Procedures for submission of the EoI.
- Key Considerations for Managing Evaluations: This guide from Pact South Africa is aimed at providing an overview of the key considerations that need to be assessed before and during the evaluation process. Page 10 of this guide has a short explanation of the EoI process.
- Request for Expression of Interest for Consultancy Services: This EoI from Actionaid Nigeria clearly demonstrates the structure and function of writing an EoI for evaluation purposes.
- Call for Expression of Interest Global Evaluation of the Emergency Response Funds (ERFs): This Expression of Interest (EoI) from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) demonstrates the clear structure and content of an EoI for evaluation purposes
Nolan , D. University of Tasmania, Financial Services. (2011). Expression of interest guidelines. Retrieved from website: http://www.utas.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/183325/EOI-Guidelines...
Sonko, R., Berhanu, A., & Shamu, R. (2011). Key Considerations for Managing Evaluations, Brief Reference Guide. Washington DC: Pact.